Washington state officers will not face criminal charges in Mexican farmworker's slaying: lawyer

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 09, 2015 4:55 PM

By Eric M. Johnson

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Three police officers in Washington state will not face criminal charges in the February shooting death of an unarmed Mexican farmworker who threw rocks at them before fleeing arrest, a lawyer representing the victim's family said on Wednesday.

Antonio Zambrano-Montes was killed in the southeastern farming city of Pasco in an incident captured on video that sparked outrage in a majority Latino community that has likened his death to fatal police confrontations with unarmed black men in Missouri and New York.

"The wife and children of Antonio Zambrano are extremely disappointed with the decision by Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant not to charge the three City of (Pasco) Police Officers with any crime in the execution of their loved one Antonio Zambrano," attorney George Trejo said in a statement.

Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Shawn Sant, who was due to hold an afternoon news conference on the matter, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The shooting, which occurred at a busy intersection after the 35-year-old farmworker threw rocks at the officers, triggered protests by demonstrators who complained Pasco police were too quick to use lethal force in their fourth slaying in seven months.

"(Sant's) claim that there is insufficient evidence to establish any crime beyond a reasonable doubt is a pretext for his decision to protect law enforcement from the very beginning of this case," Trejo said. "We are not surprised by this decision but disgusted and disappointed."

Video of the incident captured by bystanders showed Zambrano-Montes fleeing from pursuing officers before turning to face them and being gunned down.

Police said two stun guns failed to subdue Zambrano-Montes during a standoff.

Relatives of Zambrano-Montes argued in a federal lawsuit filed last week seeking more than $25 million in damages that the officers violated his civil rights and reflected a pattern of unconstitutional practices, excessive force and poor training of the city's officers.

Last month, family members filed a separate $4.76 million wrongful death claim against the city.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney)